As I reflect on election night ten years ago today, I can’t help but think about where my political career started. I wasn’t running for office. I was running a voter-registration drive in Chicago. What I learned then -- and what would become the premise of my 2008 campaign -- was that you couldn't just fight for existing votes. You had to reach out to all of these people who had lost faith and lost trust, and get them off the sidelines.
So during our first campaign, when I started seeing all these stories about record turnout in communities all over the country -- from young people in line for hours in Iowa to elderly folks in lawn chairs down in Florida -- I knew that we had shown what is possible when everybody decides to participate. And that, in and of itself, gave people a sense of their own power -- their own agency in the kind of country we want to leave for our kids. When more people get off the sidelines and decide to participate, our country becomes a little more representative of its people -- of everyone's collective decision. And American politics can change as a result.
So on Election Day this Tuesday, I’m not just asking you to vote. I'm asking you to really show up once again. Talk with your friends, convince some new voters, and get them out to vote because then something powerful happens. Change happens. Hope happens. And with each new step we take in the direction of fairness, and justice, and equality, and opportunity, hope spreads.